Saturday, August 28, 2021

Oh, No......Tear It Apart Again?

 WELL.......seems I miscalculated a bit when it came to measuring the the rack space I had for the new(er) TEAC A-4300SX tape deck.

It was a bit over 1/8" too tall to fit into the available space, so everything came off the shelf above, and I raised it about 2".

Now it even has enough room for an even bigger deck, with 10.5" reels, should I so desire.

 And since the Pioneer receiver had never been given a proper cleaning since I bought it, I dove into that.

Think I can handle this?


It was  more than a bit grungy inside:


I'm amazed at the amount of dirt all over this tuning capacitor:


And in other places:

Very clean under the bottom plate:

And I pulled the front panel off, as there was a motley collection of "dirt" on the dial and the backside of the glass, which just drove me NUTZ.

It took about 30 minutes with the shop vacuum and a soft bristled brush to knock all the splooge off the internals and vacuum it out, and another half hour or so to clean the dial assembly. Then I spent an hour or so cleaning the aluminum front panel, and another hour cleaning and buffing the knobs.

All back together and shiny again:

And here's the finished (for now...) rack, all back together (for now...) and playing beautifully.

Hope y'all have a great weekend. I have to shuttle down to DIA to pick up SLW who was visiting a friend for the last week. Spent a lot of good "Garage Time" with my son just hanging out and discussing Guy Stuff.

Monday, August 23, 2021

TEAC A-4300SX Wrap-Up

 This one was easier than the A-4010SU I did last month. It's a 10 year newer design, the chassis is more rugged, all of the oil-filled capacitors (aka the "Suzuki Firecrackers") have been replaced with newer film capacitors, and the electronics are completely new.

This picture is how it looked out-of-the-box. BTW, this was just about the best packed item I've ever received via eBay. Double-boxed with new styrafoam inserts, and extra cardboard under the seams so when you opened it up you didn't damage anything.

The reddish dust was from a blanket I temporarily used to cover it up. Entirely my fault, and bit of extra cleaning to do.

SUPER clean inside.

And all you have to do to access the monitoring/adjustment points in the electronics is to lay it on it's back, remove two screws, and slide off the bottom cover.

And TEAC even used a nice label on the inside of the bottom cover showing where all the points are.

And even though their Technical "checked" the belts and pronounced them "OK", I went ahead and replaced them anyway. They felt "sticky" to me, and that usually means they're degrading, and I had them, so new ones went in, along with cleaning the entire tape path, and demagnetizing all the bits. The counter belt required pulling the tape reel hub to get at, but it was just two setscrews. The capstan belt required removing three large screws and lifting a support brace out of the way, but it was far easier to do than the other deck, where I had to remove screws from the bottom of the chassis so I could lift out the entire capstan assembly to get at the belt.

The flat, gold colored brace running vertically in the picture comes off, and you can easily swap the belt.

 And it's a good thing I replaced the belts because the two setscrews on the reel hub, and the three screws holding the bottom of the capstan, were loose. Barely more than "finger tight", and could have easily caused problems down the road. Makes me wonder if they removed the belts to inspect them, put them back on, and never fully tightened the screws. Which begs the question..."New belts are only $10. Why didn't you change them?"....

And to finish it off, I cleaned and oiled the wood trim sides.'s all back together, and I'll post a pic after I lug it done to the workshop and get it in the rack..

And now I have a really nice A-4010SU to sell.......

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Three Score and Ten

Well, I've made it around the Sun 70 times now, although somewhat worse for the wear. Got the results back from the 14 days I wore the cardiac monitor, and it confirms that I've got a lot of "missing" heartbeats caused by Premature Ventricular Contractions. Depending on what my Cardiologist says, it could be as simple as cutting down on coffee intake, to taking medication, to getting a pacemaker installed. I'm supposed to hear from them by Friday, if not I'll give them a call on Monday.

As the memes all say, it was a H3ll of a lot more fun being 20 in the 70's than being 70 in the 20's. If I tried half the stuff I did back then, I don't think I'd last more than a couple of weeks. I used to go blasting along in excess of 160MPH, and now I turn the radio down when traffic gets heavy.

No plans for the day other than waiting for the TEAC to get here, along with a set of belts for it. The listing said their Tech looked at it and pronounced the belts to be "fine", which either means they were replaced at some point, or the Tech doesn't know what he's doing. TEAC belts of that vintage tend to get soft, gooey, gummy, and disintegrate, leaving a mess inside the machine. I was lucky in that the belt in the 4010 deck had broken and was laying in the case, but I've seen pix showing the belts to be a ball of goo wrapped around the pulleys. Regardless, I have new belts for it, they're easier to change than on the other deck, and I'll swap them out when I have it opened up to inspect/service things.

Might go out for dinner tonight, might not. We're expecting some heavy thunderstorm activity later today, so we might just sit it out. Have a birthday party for one of the clan's young-uns on Saturday, and that should be fun seeing the rest of the clan, and just hanging out.

Enjoy the upcoming weekend!


Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Newest Acquisition

 This guy:

 Should be here later this week. It's another TEAC, an A-4300SX, and is ten years newer than the one I picked up last month. "If I Woulda Known..." last month what I know now about TEAC tape machines, I most likely would have passed on the A-4010SU I bought, and gone right to this one. The mechanical bits are 90% the same, as it's still a TEAC "A-4xxx Series" machine, but it has significantly updated electronics, and better heads. It also has switches to adjust the Recording Bias, and Playback Equalization, allowing the use of newer formulation tapes, like the "Type @ Low Noise" tapes, and the "Type 3 High Output" tapes, sold as "LN", and "UD" from companies like Maxell. All I used before on my big Sony deck was Maxell tape, and it was significantly better than the Type 1 tape. "Type 1" tapes are the reddish-brown tapes, and "Type 2" and "Type 3" tapes are almost always the dark grey colored tape, owing to the use of a different oxide coating.

And speaking of heads, they heads on this one look to be in excellent condition:


While my A-4010 shows definite signs of wear. They don't have any grooves in them, but show a definite wear pattern:

But way better than this one (photo courtesy of

Now THAT'S a "groovey" tape head! I've seen machines advertised on eBay where the seller says "Plays and records fine, and sounds GREAT!", and then shows a picture of the heads worn this bad.

Anyway.....In the last month I've brought myself up-to-speed on the current state of analog magnetic recording, and found a great website with loads of information on the TEAC product line, complete with specifications, and reviews. They also cover every tape machine I've heard of, and a lot more I didn't know existed, or were too specialized/expensive for me back in the day. Eventually I want to "work my way up" to a TEAC 6000 series or 7000 series, but they're out of my budget range for now.

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Been Keeping Busy....

 Went to see the "Toughest Monster Truck" show down at the Larimer County Fairgrounds, aka "The Ranch". I've been to lots of different motorsports events, but this was a first.

Good Gravy those things are LOUD. 500 cubic inches of Big Block Chevy, with a blower, running in an enclosed arena, can make quite a bit of racket through open exhaust. Glad I brought my Peltor muffs!

With Riverrider in mind, I post this:

Swiped from FakeBook, and of course the "Fact Checkers" had a field day with it.

We got some sprinkles, and 15 miles East of here got clobbered with ping-pong ball sized hail. Glad it missed us, but hope WSF got through it OK, as it was headed his way..

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Looks Like These Survey Flights Are Common.

 This one's out East of here.

This is what caught my eye.

This is a "light" day for air traffic. There's times I've seen sixty aircraft in the area I can monitor.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Another Survey Flight

 By the contractor folks at MARC. Their Mission Statement indicates...

"MARC is North America's largest provider of specialized contract aircraft and flight crews for airborne GIS, survey and surveillence projects. MARC provides the industry a modified fleet of Navajos, Navajo Chieftains and Merlin turbine aircraft, equipped and ready for deployment. Each aircraft is configured for all GIS applications including imagery and LiDAR installations."

These are probably common, but since I've only had the decoder running since June, they're "new" to me.

These are the various payloads they operate:

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Glad That's Over.....!

 Got the Radio Room fan installed on Sunday, and the Dining Room fan installed today.

The RR fan is a Hunter, and was made and packaged better, with FAR better instructions, than the DR fan.

Radio Room:

I have two of the three bulbs loose in the socket as otherwise it's too bright. That'll do until I either get some lower wattage bulbs, or a dimmer installed.

Dining Room:

This one was made by "Parrot Uncle" (who?) and had cheaper hardware, a weird angled ceiling mount which involved some re-engineering of the hardware, and the lamps are type "G-10" LED, and a royal PITA to get installed in the sockets. It's a two-pin lamp base that looks like an old florescent lamp starter can, and they barely fit in the socket.

BUT.....they're hung, they work, and SLW is happy with them.

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Homeowner Stuff....

 Had my son help me remove the ceiling light fixture in the Radio Room here, and then we replaced it with a combo fan/light. It gets uncomfortably warm back here in the Summer on sunny days, and the little room fan I propped up on the chest freezer in here was inconvenient.

Got one of the these "Hunter" fans from the HD store....

I also have another one to hang in the dining room, but it's a bit different, and made by a different company. They're both chinesium, but represent different points in the price spectrum. The Hunter fan was very nicely packed, with good quality, good sized hardware, and a very good instruction booklet that helped a first-time-fan-hanger get the project finished.

The other fan was packed with very cheap styrofoam, the kind that crumbles when you look at it, some of the hardware is chintzy, and the instruction book has errors in it, which could have thrown me if I hadn't installed the Hunter fan first.

The really annoying thing is that the Hunter was about half the price of the the other one.

Son is getting settled in and decompressing a bit from the trip. He'd like to find some kind of job in "Transportation", perhaps driving a Pilot Car, or maybe some warehouse work. He starts looking in earnest on Monday, even if we have to start prodding him. He and TLG have hit it off, and Pebbles was ecstatic to see somebody from the Old Hood show up....

The NLG is almost up to 6 pounds, and has been off Supplemental O2 for a bit, but was put back on it yesterday. Not sure when he'll be released to go home, but the Doctors are very happy with his progress.

Friday, August 6, 2021

Another "Interesting" Flight Path -Updated A Bit-

 The aircraft is registered to the National Science Foundation.

I'll have to look on google maps to see what's down there....

This is a profile of the aircraft at an Open House. Picture below.

More info from Wikkipedia regarding this Gulfstream V aircraft:

On March 11, 2005, Gulfstream delivered an ultra-long-range G-V to the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). The aircraft—known as the High-performance, Instrumented Airborne Platform for Environmental Research (HIAPER), based in Boulder, Colorado, is being used by environmental and atmospheric scientists from both public and private research facilities.[19] The GV was chosen by NCAR for its exceptionally high cruising altitude, long range, endurance, payload, reliability, and low operating costs, as well as worldwide product support.[20] The HIAPER Gulfstream V is modified to accept wing/pylon mounted instrumentation. 


And has Hardpoints on the wings, too!

Thursday, August 5, 2021

The "Prodigal Son" Is Almost Home

 Well my son surprised me, and probably Well Seasoned Fool, too.

Rather than take either the "approved" detour, or WSF's more Southerly path, he just stayed on CO-13 North until it turned into WY-789, and he'll pick up I-80 East about 25 miles West of Rawlins, WY. From there it's a straight shot to Cheyenne, and then I-25 South to here.

Good naviguessing, kid! We didn't think of that.....and we live here!

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

TEAC A-4010SU -Take Two-

 Well, thanks to some answers from the guys on the Audio Science Review forum, I was able to "fix" the deck so it runs at correct speed.

Turns out there are two steps on the motor pulley, that match the two steps on the capstan/flywheel assembly.

This is the 50Hz position, where I had the belt installed:

And this is the 60Hz position after I corrected my error:

See how the belt is now "down further" than in the first pic? Yup, changes the drive ratio between the capstan motor and the capstan/flywheel assembly. I didn't know that TEAC provided the ability to run this machine on either 50HZ or 60Hz. It's not mentioned in the Service Manual, and this machine was sold as strictly "115V/60Hz". The "U" in the model number means it was made to be sold to US Service personnel stationed overseas. Pioneer and Sony did the same thing, but having "missed out" on the whole BX/PX (which is it these days?) experience, I had only a fuzzy knowledge of the items you could buy at a substantial savings over what we'd pay for the (mostly) same item in the States. It's nice that TEAC let this design element stay in these purpose-built machines for those times you needed to run on a different power line frequency.

The original drive belt was in three pieces, and I cleaned both pulleys without making a note of which of the two sets were dirty from the belt. Oooops! And then I didn't look closely enough to see that 1) There's TWO sets of pulleys, and 2) ONE of the sets had some wear marks on it making it easy to see (if you LOOK) which set was used. If you look at the aluminum pulley in the top picture, you can see it has some wear marks on it, indicating the belt was riding on it. I though it a bit "curious" that the pulley I was putting the new belt onto looked pristine, while the other step below it didn't. That's a big D'OH! on me, and a rookie mistake that I should have caught. As a Wise Old Mechanic once told me, and it's been excellent advice in my career, "You Have To Learn How To Hear What The Parts Are Telling You".

Anyway, back to the deck.....
It's all put back together, and all the pre-recorded tapes The Colonel gave me, including the Bob Hope USO Show, sound amazing. All I can find so far is that Mr. Hope was there in 1969, 1970, 1972. Now I'll try and nail it down to only those shows with Raquel Welch, and I'll have a better idea. SLW wants to listen to the entire tape. The quality of the recording is excellent. It was recorded with perfectly balanced levels, and you can hear every.single.word the performers say. It's like being on-stage with the. It sounds like it was recorded directly out of the mixing board.


He's spending the night in Grand Junction. Thursday is going to be a long day because of the detours. Thanks to Well Seasoned Fool, he now has a much better alternate route than what he was being fed getting from Google Maps. It adds some miles, but I'm assured it will be a better way for him to do the last leg of his exfiltration.

OUCH! I-70 Closed Until October, Son Gets Detoured.....

 He was going to come on the Southern Route, taking I-40 through AZ and NM. Well....he changed his mind, and was planning on taking I-70 through CO to get here.

As the headline says, I-70 is closed due to mudslides and other weather-related issues. Google Maps is telling him to take the 13 North out of Rifle up to the 40, and then come across and down to Denver, and then up to here on the I-25.

At least he can stop at Shooters for lunch....

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

My Son Has Started His CALEXIT

 So SLW and I have been cleaning things up and getting ready. 

His trailer is loaded, and he'll be "Leaving L.A." momentarily. He's taking the Southern Route, as he got a bit nervous when I was blasting through the mountains with him, trailer in tow at 75MPH, when he came out here with me back when SLW and I moved here.

Hard to believe we've been here close to four years now.

I told to make sure he stops on the corner in Winslow, Arizona, and I'll tell him to send up a flare as he goes through Flagstaff. Maybe LL or some others will see it.

Didn't get back on the TEAC, as I had several more pressing things to do, like sweeping, mopping, picking things up, some more PT, and a list of new exercises for my left shoulder.

Gettin' old sucks!

We'll keep you posted.

Via Con Dios, my son....

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Possible Explanation of "Too Fast" Recordings.

 OK, so after pouring over the Service Manual for the TEAC, I see no mention of any "Speed Adjust", which makes sense as all three of the motors are AC motors, meaning they're pretty much "locked" to the frequency of the incoming AC power.

Everything turns freely, and recordings I made using the Pioneer on FM for a source sound great. The recordings I made at 3-3/4ips sound good, while the ones made at 7-1/2ips sound even better.

I'm shopping now for a "Test Tape", aka "Calibration Tape", which will confirm that the recorder is running at the correct speed. Until that gets here, I'm going to run 10 seconds of tape, and measure the length. Should be pretty close to 45" of tape at 3-3/4ips, and 90" of tape at 7-1/2ips. I know this isn't "exact", but it'll be a pretty good ballpark guesstimate, and will have to do until I can get a real test tape.

BUT.....what could have caused the deck to run slower than "normal" when these old recordings were made?

The only explanation I have is that the AC power at U-Tapao where these tapes were made was 50Hz power, and not 60Hz power. 220V/50Hz could be stepped-down to 110V/50Hz, making the Voltage OK, but not the frequency. Since I know little to nothing about the base infrastructure back then, or where they got their AC power from, this is a "First Order SWAG", and I might be 100% wrong.

Anybody know anything about the AC power used in SEA back then? I'm pretty sure if the were running on US generators they'd have 220/110 60Hz, but what if the "Host Country" supplied the power? The wikkipedia entry indicates that Thailand currently (no pun) uses 50Hz power, so I may have found the "problem" with the tapes running fast.

Been Busy....Follow-Up Post Coming Soon To A Browser Near <i>YOU</i>!

 Been a week since last post. Been busy herding grandkids, playing with the dog, yard work, house items, and working on all manner of stuff....